Social/search: Facebook meets heads over bias claims

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has met with a group of high profile US conservatives, including senior Donald Trump advisor Barry Bennett and Fox News presenter Dana Perino, to allay concerns the social network suppresses conservative news and views.

The allegations first surfaced on tech-site Gizmodo which cited an anonymous former Facebook employee who said that workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservatives from its Trending Topics feature.

On May 12, Facebook published a blog outlining how the Trending Topics feature functions – through algorithms and human judgment – and said it was investigating the Gizmodo allegations but had “found no evidence to date that Trending Topics was successfully manipulated”.

The following day, The Guardian published leaked documents that show human intervention at almost every stage of Facebook’s trending news operation.

The documents also reveal a heavy reliance on 10 news sources, including CNN, Fox News, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, to determine whether a trending story has editorial authority.

Following the meeting with conservatives, Mr Zuckerberg said on Facebook that it did not make sense for the business to suppress political content.

“The reality is, conservatives and Republicans have always been an important part of Facebook. Donald Trump has more fans on Facebook than any other presidential candidate. And Fox News drives more interactions on its Facebook page than any other news outlet in the world,” he wrote.

“It’s important that Facebook remains a platform for all ideas and that we continue to give every person a voice.”

Twitter to lift character limit

Twitter is expected to stop counting photos and web links as part of its famed 140-character limit, according to Bloomberg.

Photos and links currently chew up 24 and 23 characters respectively, adding strain to journalists trying to convey news as succinctly as possible.

Earlier this year, Twitter was rumoured to be considering raising its character limit to up to 10,000, however the speculated move was ruled out by CEO Jack Dorsey after some negative reactions online.

YouTube’s subscription service hits Australia, NZ

YouTube’s video subscription service YouTube Red has officially arrived in Australia and New Zealand, opening up new opportunities for content creators to monetise content outside the ad-supported model.

Users can subscribe for $11.99 per month to watch videos ad-free, access a library of exclusive content and take advantage of subscriber-only features such as the ability to save videos for offline viewing.

Revenue from YouTube Red subscriptions will be distributed to content creators based on viewing figures, functioning as a secondary revenue stream to existing earnings from ad-supported viewing.

Publishers in Australia and New Zealand have generally opted to distribute video content via their own video platforms, giving them greater control over advertising and where that content appears.

Moving content to YouTube would allow publishers to take advantage of the scale and shareability of the Google-owned service, although whether revenue from subscriptions and ads would make it worth their while remains to be seen.

YouTube’s ad-support service will continue in tandem with YouTube Red, which first launched in the US.

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